these 10,000-word TOS every company has - they're long,
complicated, and boring on purpose, right?
To be fair, Facebook has
acknowledged that people rarely read these long and complicated
TOS and have taken steps to simplify and shorten theirs.
However the reality is probably
that, no matter how short the TOS are, most people are still not
going to read them - they would rather deal with the
consequences of blindly agreeing to them than bothering to
carefully read them.
The reality is that most users would
rather agree to sign away some of their privacy rights than not
be on Facebook. And Facebook knows this and thus keeps widening
its rights to use our data and personal information.
Do you see
anything about Facebook's new TOS that are particularly
Facebook says that it has
introduced "Privacy Basics" ["interactive guides to answer the
most commonly asked questions about how you can control your
information on Facebook"] in a bid to dispel confusion over how
your information is used.
It claims to be attempting to give
more control to its users, provide location information to
friends, and improve battery life and signal strength.
pretty benign. Is there more to it than that?
As with most companies, there is an additional unstated business
goal: to sell more advertising. In pursuit of that goal, every
bit of personal information is a valuable data point that the
company can exploit, and Facebook gathers users' details so that
they can sell more advertising at higher rates as, through this,
they can truthfully claim to be able to better target their ads.
And how are
the new TOS going to help Facebook target ads?
Individuals will be able to
allow their friends to track their every move. So users can now
inadvertently agree to sign away their privacy rights,
implications of which they may not be aware of.
So you just touched upon location tracking.
The new terms will require users to accept a new location data
policy that says you allow Facebook to use your GPS, Bluetooth,
and Wi-Fi signals to track your location.
Should we be fine with this? What's the idea
The above mentioned terms will apply only to users who give
Facebook permission to track their location.]
The idea is to track the location of
users in an effort to target them with localized adverts and
thus attract more companies to advertise on Facebook at higher
The app will help users to find
friends who are nearby and alert them when it detects one in
close proximity, even when the app is not open on the handset.
There is no doubt that this function
is intrusive, but Facebook is trying to track us users for even
more profits by offering even more carefully targeted adverts.
have permission to do this?
Facebook have obtained our permission, as their conditions
state that the company may use information on location,
"to tell you and your friends
about people or events nearby, or offer deals to you that
you might be interested in."
The company said it may also put
"to serve you ads that might be
So while it is Big-Brotherish, users
have agreed to this by agreeing to use Facebook. The reality is
that users would prefer to allow Facebook to use their data in
any way than to switch to another social media platform.
how much will Facebook's new TOS affect our online lives?
With Facebook and their clients
now knowing where you eat, where you travel, where you shop, and
who you are with, they could have a detailed database covering
all aspects of users' lives.
Furthermore, the idea now is that we
will be targeted with ads that suit our personality - the
objective is to change the way we spend and what we spend our
money on - we could be subtly psychologically manipulated by
large brands, which are richer than many governments, without
However, most users will not care
and will not quit Facebook and will be too apathetic to bother
to go into their privacy settings to recalibrate.
And Facebook will just get richer
and more powerful.
expertise covers the crazy stuff companies try to hide in their
TOS. How does Facebook compare to most of what you see?
Out of all the TOS I have dealt
with in 20 years, Facebook's are the most intrusive.
To be granted rights to track an
individual's movements, and thus the people that would be with
those individuals, and to potentially commercially exploit
without permission all pictures posted on Facebook without
specific consent, is breath-taking.
Users must take responsibility for
their data. Facebook's ability to exploit our data is contingent
upon our allowing them to do so. It is up to us to value our
privacy and to spend a few minutes setting some restrictions on
the privacy settings.
tinkering with your privacy settings would help you opt out of
these intrusive new TOS?
You can adjust your settings to
change which people can see what you post: Global - which is
everyone, the whole internet - Friends of Friends, Just Friends,
or you only.
Most people will want to set it to
Just Friends, but many leave it on Global. However, no matter
what settings you use here, these settings only affect the way
you share with others.
It has no outcome on how Facebook
shares your stuff - that's all dictated by the unchangeable TOS
that you need to agree to, to be allowed to use
Facebook in the first place.
Facebook's ability to share your information is in fact
contingent on your settings. However, if someone else with more
liberal privacy settings than you uploads a photo of you or tags
you in a post, Facebook will be able to use that information
according to the terms the uploader has agreed to.]